Monday, October 31, 2005

This just in: The Redskins Aren't Very Good

Yesterday afternoon, the New York Giants were looking to win a ball game to honor their recently deceased co-owner Wellington Mara. How nice of the Washington Redskins to accommodate them.

In a total chicken-droppings effort, the visiting Redskins laid an egg,
losing 36-0 to the Giants in a game fraught with turnovers, weird penalties, dropped passes, missed tackles, blown assignments, mental mistakes, problematic injuries, and generally poor execution and focus in a game that determined who would assume first place in the NFC East. Bwok Bwok!

In other words, it was classic Redskins. When the stakes are high, the Redskins roll over. Not only do they get outplayed, they get out-hustled and out-thought and out-competed. Of course, at home against the worst-in-the-league 49ers, they score 52 points and can't be stopped. But in a game of real consequence against a heated rival, they can't get a first down or a defensive stop. The game was actually less competitive than the final score indicated, if you can believe that. The Redskins actually didn't CROSS MIDFIELD until the very end of the third quarter, when the game was already so out of reach that backup doghouse quarterback Patrick Ramsey was in there.

I like what local media personality Steve Czaban said on Comcast Sportsnet following the game: that this was a cold shower for the Redskins and their fans, and that sometimes, that can be a good thing. I second that emotion. The Redskins seem to spend a lot of time reading their media clippings, good or bad. Personally, I am of the opinion that the team reflects its owner on this account, as Daniel Snyder is notorious for poring over his own press. They all have to stop and realize that success comes through efforts and continuity on the field, not during the offseason or the draft, or on the set of SportsCenter, or in the boardroom, or in the bank vault, or at the eight-dollar-hot-dog pep rally and traded-player jersey sell-off. This also goes for the fans, who watched the team roll the 49ers and immediately started buying Super Bowl tickets. When a team is as mentally unstable and fundamentally unsound as the Skins have been over the last eight or nine seasons - all sound and fury, signifying nothing - a few early season creampuff wins does not a turnaround create. Let them beat the Cowboys twice, and the Eagles and Giants at least once (not to mention tough out-of-division foes like the Broncos or even the Chiefs) before we break out the Bandwagon and the Return-To-Glory talk and all the other chicanery. Please.

Games like these are why the Redskins are always prominently featured in those NFL Films career highlight reels - on the wrong side. Amani Toomer's career highlight reel - you know, if you wanted to put one together - now undoubtedly features his 12-yard dragging of Walt Harris down the sideline yesterday, while the other defenders gathered around and watched like they were at a catfight behind the cafeteria after school. Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, former Skin Antonio Pierce, Jay freeking Feely, and of course Tiki Barber (who set a career high with 206 rushing yards and just missed the Giants record by 12 yards) all feathered their personal nests at the expense of the Redskins. Bwok Bwok!

So that's it on the game. To sum up, the Redskins stink, and they will continue to stink until further notice. They are one of the hardest teams in pro sports to root for (for several reasons) and a turnaround does not seem imminent. Hey, maybe next week. Whatever.

Bonus Broadcaster notes: Why is it that Tony Siragusa is the sideline reporter for every single NFL game I watch nowadays? Good lord, is this man annoying. And judging by the games I watch, he seems to be asexually multiplying. He seems affable enough if you're "his kind of guy," but definitely in a fart joke kind of way. In a six-year-old, steal-your-lunch-money kind of way. He's the kind of guy who, because he is so massive and rather famous, is used to everyone around him laughing at every joke he makes no matter what. So he doesn't have to try so hard, and just makes locker room fart jokes. I expect to hear within the next few years that he's going for some kind of farting/fart joke record. Way to go, Goose. You're enough to make me miss Lisa Guerrero.

Also, I liked Howie Long's halftime assessment of Tiki Barber. "He's running like somebody owes him money." Astute observation, Howard. No wonder you're "the smart one" on that show after James Brown. One time, somebody owed me money, and I was running to beat the devil. I understand that this is why bankers and bookies are so notoriously fast and in shape. I can't wait until next week for your next observation - or for the next Skins game, for that matter. I hope the week goes by fast. Fast like somebody owes it money. Good day now.

(Photo Credit: Jason Steven)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's total bedlam here in Washington, D.C.!

When there's big things afoot in the Nation's Capital, you can guage the excitement by watching passersby and tabulating their smirks and eye rolls.

Washington Person #1: Miers withdrew her nomination. (smirk)

Washington Person #2: Yeah, I heard. (eye roll) But thanks.

#1: I tell ya, with Miers gone and with the Plame indictments coming down, plus Iraq and the hurricanes, (eye roll) Bush and his folks are really in a shit storm right now. (smirk)

#2: (eye roll) Yeah.

#1: I am very (eye roll) excited by all this big news. (smirk)

#2: (eye roll) (smirk) So am I. (smirk) It will certainly be interesting (smirk) to see how it all shakes out. (eye roll)

#1: (eye roll) Sure will. That Fitzgerald, we'll see (smirk) if he can make these charges stick. (eye roll)

#2: (eye roll) (smirk) (smirk) (eye roll)

#1: (smirk) (eye roll) (smirk) (eye roll) (smirk)

#2: Maybe this could actually benefit the country. (smirk)

#1 & #2: (hearty laugh) (smirking)

#2: Hey, I'll bet you can't name the last 12 solicitors general. (smirk)

#1: (eye roll) I'll name the last 12 solicitors general when you name the last 12 editors of the Post opinion page. (smirk)

And so on...

Before I go any further, don't get me wrong here. Washington is a great city. Underrated, in fact. It's highly diverse, lots of smart people, plenty of culture (much of it free, unlike other cities), plenty of nature, competitive (errr, kind of) college and pro sports teams, and a HIGHLY underrated singles and social scene. These are all things I look forward to exploring and detailing in this blog.

However, having or hearing a conversation with A Washington Insider on The Big Issues Of The Day can get a little grating. It's like a contest to see who can be the most cynicical or drop the most names. This is what passes for excitement in this town? Two jerks in charcoal suits rolling their eyes at each other? Where is the fist pumping and street dancing and casual fornication?

On the other hand, normal human conversations about politics are extremely interesting and worthwhile and, yes, even exciting. In fact, I encourage more political discussion, for whatever that's worth. I like Ralph Nader's take - people should follow politics just like they follow sports teams. I second that emotion.

But back to the original point. Big weeks like this in D.C., with
the Plame/Rove scandal and the Miers withdraw, make huge news that is very much worth attention, even if it seems a little boring at first (D.C. in this and many other ways is the polar, perfect opposite of L.A., but that's another blog). It's just that the discussions themselves around here are so cynical and parochial as to be comical.

In a nutshell, excitement that is centered in Washington is like a good smell that is centered in Birmingham. It's not that it's not a legitimate thing. It's just gotta be graded on a curve, that's all.

(Photo Credit: Michael Slonecker)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Minute Maid Park is now Neverland Park

World Series thoughts today. Crushing, draining loss for the Astros in Game 3 last night in every sense of those words. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say the Astros are dead. Literally. I think they all passed away after last night's game. They have now played, in the span of three weeks, both the longest postseason game ever (an 18-inning win over the hur-ting Atlanta "Mama Cass" Braves) and the longest World Series game ever (last night's 14-inning, almost six-hour-long, 7-5 loss to the White Sox), not to mention the Pujols and Podsednik home runs and everything else. They couldn't be losing (or winning) these games in any more exhausting ways.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that as a kid I lived in Texas for a few years, and the first pro sporting event I ever attended was an Astros game at the old Astrodome. I also attended plenty of contests during their 1986 playoff run (a team co-anchored by third baseman and current 'Stros manager Phil Garner). So I was definitely rooting for the Astros. But they're done. I'll give it up to the White Sox, though, who scrap, fight, and even bend the rules (yeah, that's right - A.J. Pierzynski I'm looking at you) to do what it takes to win. They just don't die. They're like the Hydra of Greek mythology, a (fittingly) nine-headed dragon monster who would only die when Heracles cut off each of its heads and burned the neck stumps. (This didn't even work with the last head - Heracles had to bury it). So you get the picture. They're a scrappy, resilient, gutty, nasty team. Let me be one of the first to prematurely congratulate them on their World Series championship.

Also, while I'm here, just a couple more things on this Series in general that I find interesting. Both are highlighted to an extent in the linked story below from Cox News Service (Lindsey, that one's for you!). One, Garner essentially admits that he's happy just to be at the World Series, and he's already saying that no matter what, no one can take away his 1979 World Series ring. Great, Phil. Way to keep your eye on the prize. You're being devoured by a freaking Hydra, and you're just taking this opportunity to pause and smell the roses and remember the good old days and just be grateful for all of life's wonderful great blessings. Hope you can still do those things when the Hydra is passing you through its large intestine. Better luck next year, Phil.

The second (and final) interesting Series note is related to Minute Maid Park, the Astros home field. I hate to beat a dead horse when it comes to celebrity jokes (and at this point it feels like all celebrity jokes are an exercise in dead-horse-beating), but isn't it easy to picture Minute Maid Park as having been designed by Michael Jackson? I can just hear him:

"Wheeee! I want the outfield stands to look like a castle, and I want the foul and home run lines to be all funky! And ooh! Ooh! I want there to be a random hill in the outfield, and I want there to be a little choo-choo train going all the way around everything, with a real live conductor! Weeeee! A traaaaaaiiiiiinnnnn!!!!!! And everytime the Astros do something - a win, a loss, a home run, a single, a bunt, a strikeout, a balk, a ruptured achilles tendon - I want there to be fireworks! Big, glorious, super-cool fireworks! Yaaaaaaaayyyyyy!"

Shamon, Michael. Your park's a little wacky there. But hey, the White Sox seem to like it.

Cox News Service story.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Welcome to the inaugural episode of "That's Not A Word!"

Welcome, welcome. Yes, it's that time. Time to play "That's Not A Word!" Today's contestant is Chris Berman, ESPN personality and host of "NFL PrimeTime presented by Miller Lite." More on Chris in a minute. But now, let's play! At the beginning of last night's program, Berman, while discussing Detroit Lions quarterback Jeff Garcia's contribution to a rare Lions win, said he was not ready to "canyonize" Garcia yet. We here at "That's Not A Word!" went to the dictionary--and not no pocket collegiate mofo neither, a big, serious hardcover joint--to look up "canyonize." And, DingDingDingDingDingDing!!! "Canyonize" is not a word! We found "canonize," meaning "to declare a deceased person to be a saint and entitled to be fully honored." Perhaps that is what you meant. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Chris. So therefore, Chris Berman, you are our big winner! And heeere's your big prize--six months of copy-editing undergraduate term papers at beautiful Arizona State University! You should be proud of yourself, Berman. Thanks to one and all for playing, and we'll see you next time on "That's Not A Word!"

Now that the game is over, let me just say that Chris Berman drives me nuts. I'm not the kind of person who makes fun of the sportscasters no matter who they are. Like every profession, there are people who are great at what they do, there are mediocre people, and there are people where you wonder how the hell they got that job. Berman for the most part is in the middle skills-wise, but his personality just could not be more irritating to me. All the stupid nicknames, the serially outdated pop culture references, the awful, not-fooling-anybody combover, and of course, the wild, manic hand gestures. Sometimes it seems like he is trying to swat away a swarm of angry bumblebees. Sometimes I half expect him to, in the middle of talking about how Brett Favre should run for president, start yelling "Oh no! There are angry bumblebees in the studio! And I cannot seem to swat them away! We'll be back after these messages from Miller 'Turn On Your Heart' Lite!" Maybe the bumblebees are mad at him for being so annoying. Anyway, have a great Monday. I'm sure there will be more on Berman later.

P.S. Congrats to the Skins yesterday on their 52-17 dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers. San Fran is terrible, but a big win is a big win. It really looked like the Skins exorcised some demons on the field, kind of like a guy who hasn't hooked up in two years, and then one night breaks through in a huge way with some wild escapade, like a threesome or some such. And maybe they aren't the most glamorous girls in the world, but they will more than suffice to give the guy a boost of confidence and mojo. Hopefully that will be true of the Skins. But probably not.

(Photo Credit: dantesz)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Books provide me with a temporary escape from excitement

Heh, just kidding. I love books. And that's what I'm blogging about today. It's a shame that people don't seem to read much anymore, even if the intent is there. A few years ago, there was an article in Cosmo or some such magazine about New Year's resolutions--it said that if your resolution was to be smarter, just buy a bunch of classic books in hardcover and put them on your shelves. That way at least you will appear smarter. I've got nothing to add here--that's just sad.

In any case, people always complain that books are boring. Well, if you read 20 pages and put it down, yeah, I can see that. You have to read the whole thing! Calling an unfinished book boring is like walking into a half-painted bedroom and saying "Wow--this looks like crap!" In other words, you need a sense of the whole picture first. Also, just because you were forced to read "Sense and Sensibility" in high school and hated it doesn't mean that all books are "Sense and Sensibility." Find books in your area of interest--trust me, they exist! So get out there, and get reading.

(The More You Know, Shooting Star, aaaaaannnnd we're out)

Does this blog have a purpose, you ask? Yeah, it does. I'm getting there. I think. The purpose is to say that I want to talk about books on this blog. Books I'm reading, new books out, etc. Should be fun. Right now, I'm reading a biography of William Shakespeare called "Will in the World." It's really good so far--a delightful jaunt! These kinds of things can be dry sometimes, but not so with this one. Did you know that Shakespeare knocked up his wife, and that she was eight years older than him? And that Shakespeare's father may have been a drunk, and was perhaps the person on whom the famous and hilarious character Falstaff was based? Good stuff. So that's it. To recap, reading is fun, I like book-talk, I'm doing book-talk in this blog, "Will in the World" is good so far, The More You Know, Starwipe, and we're out. Have a delightful weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why does The Media keep asking me about stuff I don't want to talk about?

I love the way public figures Deal With The Media nowadays. The Minnesota Vikings are just the latest example. By way of background, Vikings players chartered two boats Oct. 6, flew in some strippers for the occasion, and had themselves a drunken orgy. Unfortunately for them, their party was discovered--largely because they left used condoms and sex toys on the boat. Smooth. (When questioned, Vikes running back and admitted party attendee Mewelde Moore said "What are you talking about? That's crazy. Sex? Come on." I know, Mewelde - pro athletes banging strippers? What will they think of next? I'll just be in my spaceship.)

Anyway, in the ensuing days, Vikings coaches and players received some media inquiries about this at their regular news conferences. When the issue came up, they rolled their eyes, incredulous that a reporter would be so audacious or unprofessional as to bring up something they didn't feel comfortable discussing, then said something to the effect of "if there are no more questions about this week's game, I'm leaving," and then they get up and leave. This seems to now be status quo for public figures who do something that draws media (meaning public) scrutiny. Politicians - and we all know which ones - use this strategy all the time. A reporter brings up something unsavory, you roll your eyes and belittle them and imply that it's a stupid subject not worth anyone's time. There is always the unspoken (or spoken) threat that this figure will cut off a reporter's access unless they kowtow and play along. Of course, the figure will be more than happy to cooperate once they have a ghost-written book to plug on the subject, but that's another blog altogether.

And you know what? This all seems to work. I just wish I could get away with this in my life just as they do. I wish I could stop paying bills for a few months, and when the bill collector comes a-knockin', just say "I'm closing this door right now if you're not here to have a civil conversation with me about my new stereo." Or, perhaps I could take a few weeks of unannounced leave from work, and upon my return say "Look, boss. Unless you want to discuss my humanitarian work, this conversation is over." Of course, the media can't compel these people to answer, so it's not a perfect comparison. But I think you see what I mean.

Bottom line - if you don't want your actions to be questioned, then DON'T DO ANYTHING QUESTIONABLE! See how that works? Great. I'm glad we had this little talk. Now no more questions.

(Photo credit: Brandt Williams/MPR Photo)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Official Welcome

To the new reader of my Weblog or blog I bid a delighted greeting! At the time of this writing, this Weblog is brand new in the blogosphere, and I am overjoyed to be here. And in this case, "here," of course, meaning "at my desk, but not working."

Perhaps you are curious as to the title. Well, let me see if I can't decipher it for you. You see, this blog was titled "No One Appreciates Me" because no one appreciates me. Like, at all. Although I feel a little like Larry David must have (not that I'm comparing us) in that I am just waiting for the right project. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps not.

In any case, I feel like I'm a pretty funny and insightful guy. I have a habit of making myself laugh on the street - no foolin! And I'm not even crazy or anything. The subjects will be those of my own interest, in keeping with the modus operandi of the blogosphere in general. It will be largely a general running commentary on life and the people and situations I encounter, interspersed with various takes on sports, the media, books, music, movies, news, and so forth. I can promise in all seriousness that I'll never give an uninformed opinion.
So there you have it. Basically, I'm just going to throw some crap up here, and whatever sticks, sticks. If nothing does, I'll still have fun doing it, with the throwing and so forth.

So let the tomfoolery commence. We'll laugh, we'll cry, and maybe -- just maybe -- we'll learn a thing or two together as we incredulously ponder these funny, funny pictures as they whiz through the air. And by "air," of course, I mean "blogosphere." Air is so ten minutes ago. Good day to you.

I don't want to die in front of Bennigan's - A Prelude

Before I write my first "official" blog, just welcoming people and introducing myself and so forth, I thought I might begin with a delightful story from last night, which I will tell and then weave into my own life and this blog. For when no one appreciates you, you must appreciate yourself, and thereby render all things to be weavable.

I went out with my new wife - man, that still sounds weird to me - to eat at Bennigan's, a restaurant chain that is very Irish the same way Jeanne Zelasko is very attractive. In any case, as we sit down, the wife overhears a man on his way out tell the hostess, "we're going to have you arrested for overfeeding us." Funny joke, right? The guy had too many McFaggerty's French Fried Potato Skins and Blarney Stone Bite-size Buffalo Burgers, and washed them down with too many slices of green chocolate cake. Hey, the guy had a good meal. Slainte! But then, as the man goes outside, he collapses.

It takes a minute for the chaos to develop. Teenaged waitresses totally freak out, start asking customers if they have medical training, "like, any medical training at all, like, even medical assistant training." I do not. Our somewhat older waitress goes out to perform CPR - but not before grabbing a stack of napkins off the bar for some reason. I don't want to know the reason. The paramedics are called and soon arrive. There's a firetruck and an ambulance outside the front door of the Bennigan's.

At this point, we just kind of want our check so we can, you know, get the hell out of there. But since our waitress is outside performing CPR, it was a little late in coming. Eventually, on our way out, we were forced to step over plastic tubing and IV bags to get to the parking lot, and circumnavigate this poor man, lying on a gurney, with things stuck to his chest and a tube down his throat, responders working him over with chest compressions. I started to feel a little sick. And the only thing running through my head was "God, please don't ever let me die in front of a Bennigan's."

So that's why I'm writing this blog, if that makes any kind of sense. Sorry to get off on a morbid note, but I thought this bore a mention. Anyway, this is my blog. Hope you enjoy it. You probably won't. Jerk.